Where to even begin? A 24 hour trip turned 72 hours... :)
I was scheduled to fly out of DC late wednesday evening. Thankfully, Jeremy parked and came in to the airport with me... cause we ended up hanging out there for about 2 hours before I even was able to check in.. needless to say the flight left late! Little did I know that was just the beginning and he was the first of many people I ended up spending unexpected time with :)
I slept the whole way to Istanbul and awoke to the realization that I definitely had missed the connecting flight to Niger. Once I got off the plane I double checked that the flight to Niger had indeed already left then made my way to an airline desk to find out what's next. I met a Nigerien lady there however who happened to know my friend Crystal's dad who was a pilot in Niger for many decades! Small world :) It took about 4 hours to get flights and hotels straightened out.. but thankfully the airline covered the hotel, transport, and even my visa into Turkey! We hop in the shuttle.. and almost an hour later and after stopping at 4 hotels, the driver found one with room for us all. It is now after 11p...and I was definitely hungry, but a little unsure if I wanted to wander to find food by myself. While trying to decide if it was worth the risk to wander out by myself, a couple invited me to join them for dinner, turns out we have many friends in common as they are missionaries in Burkina! So thankful for them!
The plan was for me to return to the airport - catch a flight to Paris - then take the airfrance flight down to Niger from there. Ahem.
That morning I went downstairs extra early to catch the shuttle to the airport... I arrived at 645am but sadly the shuttle didn't come until 830am! Once at the airport I did find my flight and off I flew to Paris! Oh wait.. just kidding... it was windy.. so eventually off I fly to Paris. I found out that one other guy was also rerouted the same as me, so when we landed (due to the delay) a stewardess had us push through everyone to run behind her to try to catch the flight down to Niger.
If you have ever been to Charles de Gaulle... you know that this is no easy feat. With my awesome backpacking pack in strapped on and my purse tucked up under my arm like a football, I run with the stewardess sprinting up and down the hallways of terminal 1 (literally up and down as they are not flat). She sends us on a shuttle bus out to terminal 2. Then we have to take another shuttle to the other side of said terminal. So the guy (headed to work construction in Niger) and I sprint down the hall in time to be told that our flight has left. Awesome. Out of breath and sweaty we shake our heads and find an airfrance desk. Ah - but it's not their problem - so we are sent back that whole journey to the original terminal - out of the airport to the turkish air desk.
If you look at the boarding and departure times on my ticket - you might see where there could be a problem...
They tell us to hurry back through security and to hop on the flight back to Istanbul and to stay there another night. Um what? Seriously? After much discussion and trying to find other options, I was left with no other choice but to turn around and take the 4 hour flight back to Turkey.. unless I wanted to put myself up in a hotel :(
Thankful at least to have a travel buddy for this part we head back to Turkey. By the time we get to this next hotel, it's after 1am. Awesome. The hotel rocked though and even brought us sandwiches to our rooms!
I hardly slept as I spent the day sleeping on airplanes... so I was glad when 7a rolled around and I could go grab some breakfast from the hotel buffet. I had made contact with a couple of friends who were in Istanbul and knew we were flying out together (they were there on vacation). So I was pondering how I was going to figure out where I was exactly and how I was going to get to the designated meeting point downtown to hang with them before our 6pm flight.
I wandered down towards the reception desk and was waiting in line when I saw a young couple about my age who I thought looked american. So I took my chances and threw out a "Hey what are you all planning to do today?" They said they were going to take a taxi downtown and explore the major sites. So... I asked if I could tag along :) The taxi was a great idea and wasn't expensive split between us. We hit up a few major sites and had some good conversation for a few hours. Then we said goodbye and I headed off to ..uh.. oops I totally forgot where I was supposed to meet up with the Freemans! So I wandered around until I found a hotel, and begged for the wifi code so I could read the message with the location :)
Awesomely enough - we did meet up!! We spent a wonderful afternoon shopping and hanging out. Then we headed back to their hostel to catch the shuttle to the airport. So we hopped in caught the flight and...you're right - that would be far to easy! Well the shuttle never showed up - so after waiting about as long as we could - we grab our stuff and run off to take the local tram. It was packed and required these little tokens to ride! Thankfully we did make it there and with not too much time to spare we were on the airplane and headed home to Niger :)
What a crazy adventure that was!! Thankful for the many little ways God provides and shows He cares - even when the "plan" seems to be quite awry!